Profile Publications No. 15 The Heinkel He 111H

The H einkel He 111H H S-l, a H einkel o f KG 4 captured in Tripoli by 260 Squadron, R.A.F. (Photo: Imperial War Museum) The final collapse of Germany in the spring of 1945 can be attributed in great part to her inability either to effectively counter the Allied strategic bombing offensive or to amount significant campaign of retalia­tion. Eight years previously, the misleading successes of the Legion Condor in Spain helped to persuade the leaders of the fledgling Luftwaffe that the fast, manoeuvrable medium bomber, used as the spearhead of blitzkrieg, was the means by which they would dominate Europe. When the weakness of their chosen weapon was clearly revealed in 1940 and 1941 many pressures (not least that of optimistic apathy) pre­vented an effective reversal of policy and the founda­tion of a realistic German strategic bomber force. The Heinkel He 111H and its aging contemporaries con­tinued to roll from the factories, pitifully invulnerable a type of war for which they had not been designed. Born on the drawing-boards of Siegfried and Walter Gunther, supposedly in response to a specifica­tion issued by Deutsche Lufthansa for a high-speed mail and passenger aircraft, the Heinkel He 111 displayed from the first the characteristics of a military rather than a commercial aircraft. In view of the imminent announcement of the re-birth of German military aviation, this was no coincidence. Develop­ment of the design was carried out in 1934, the first prototype being completed in the winter of 1934/35. The low-wing monoplane was of metal, stressed-skin construction, with an attractively streamlined fuselage. Power was provided by two B.M.W. VI liquid-cooled engines rated at 660 h.p. The He 111V1 made its maiden flight at Marienehe early in 1935, and initial flight trials were encouraging. With a range of 930 miles and atop speed (214 m.p.h.) comparable to those of contemporary fighter aircraft, the prototype had three provisional gun positions and a bomb-load capacity of 2,200 lbs. The He 111 V2 was the first commercial prototype with ten-seat passenger accommodation and a smoking compartment in place of the bomb-bay. The V3 was the next military machine, and the V4, publicly dis­played for the first time at Berlin-Tempelhof in January 1936, was the second civil version. By this time the first batch of pre-production He 111A -0 bombers had already been completed at Heinkel’s Rostock plant. The subsequent development history and Luftwaffe acceptance of the pre-war He 111 series does not fall within the scope of this work, but the participation in the Spanish Civil War by He 111B, ED, and F variants serving with Kampfgruppe 88 had avery real effect on the career of later sub-types. Out of the virtually un­molested operations of these aircraft over the Govern­ment lines in Spain grew the dangerous belief that fast medium bombers with a defensive armament of three rifle-calibre machine guns needed, at the most, only light fighter escort on daylight operations. DESIGN DEVELOPMENT The first major changes in the appearance of the basic design came with the He 11 IP sub-types, which began leaving the assembly lines in 1938. This series embodied the new, straight-tapered wing and stream­lined, ventral gondola tested on the He 111V7 and, most striking of all, the re-designed nose-scction tested on the He 111V8. Extensively glazed and off-set in the interests of pilot visibility, the new nose formed an unbroken projection of the fuselage contours and was to become the “trade-mark” of He Ills throughout the Second World War. The He 11 lH-O Hand -l appeared in the summer of 1939. The prototype for this series was the He 111V I9 and the only major difference between the He 111P and early H variants was the switch to Junkers Jumo 211 A -1 engines of 1,000 h.p., therefor was consider­able demand for the DB 601 powerplant used in the P series for Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters. The Kampfgeschwader began to re-equip with the He 111H, but few had reached the Luftwaffe before the invasion of Poland on 1st September 1939. During the “Phoney War” and the air battles over Norway and France, it became obvious that the defensive armament of the He 111 H -1 (three 7-9 mm. 3
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